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Cotton is a wonderfully breathable fabric. Perfect for spring, summer and the hotter months. It is so natural, so pure… or is it?
I did some research about cotton on the net and came up with some very disturbing information.
Did you know that 25% of the insecticides used in this world goes to the growing of cotton?
To grow enough cotton to make just one t-shirt, one-third of a pound of chemicals would be required.
The more I read about cotton farming and production, the more worried I got. Fact or fiction? Conventional cotton farming is hazardous to our environment and to our health.
Let’s talk about the insecticide part of it. Which is better, to have malaria spread in cotton farming communities and to the surrounding regions because of mosquito breeding in the cotton fields, or the use of insecticides to kill the mosquitos at the price of introducing the poison to our environment?
Mosquitos aren’t the only pests. Many pests threaten the growing cotton hence huge amounts of chemicals are used to keep the cotton plants healthy.
According to Food And Agriculture Organization (United Nations) News, “Globally, more insecticides are used on cotton than on any other crop. In 1995, US$1.8 billion was spent on insecticides for cotton, 14 percent of the total US$12 billion spent on insecticides worldwide. Nearly 70 percent of the world’s cotton-cropping area treated with insecticides is in China, India and Pakistan, making them major markets for the insecticide industry.”
The problem with insecticides is overuse of them can cause the pests to become more and more resistant to the poison. Hence more lethal insecticides are developed to keep the pest population under control. Besides killing the intended pests, these chemicals may also kill the small mammals who would feed on these pests. With fewer predators around the pests are able to reproduce more rapidly, causing a greater pest problem than before.
That’s not all. Poor farmers who are unaware of the toxicity of these substances are likely to be harmed by the insecticide use. Besides killing pests, wildlife is also affected by the insecticides which get into the water, air and soil, affecting the environment.
Take the pesticide endosulfan, for example. After a field is treated with endosulfan, the earthworms emerge from the ground and die. The birds that eat the earthworms die. The poison enters the food chain. If left alone, the field treated with the poison would soon be filled with rotting carcasses of wildlife, showing how deadly the pesticides are.
So how do we get cotton without the hazards associated with conventional cotton farming?
Is it possible for cotton farmers to grow cotton and still preserve the environment?
That’s what Organic farming is about. Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Without pesticides, the yield would be lower as crops would be lost to pests. For fertilizers, ash, cattle manure and palm oil cake may be used to fertilize the crops. If chemicals must be used, organic farmers are not allowed to use the prohibited pesticides or fertilizer. If they do use chemicals, they take precautions to prevent the chemicals from drifting out of the treated area, thus minimizing the damage.
Do you sleep on cotton bedding? Consider switching to organic cotton bedding [ and support the farmers who go organic. Our economy is driven by demand. If there is a greater demand for organic cotton products, more farmers would be willing to forgo the higher yield obtained through conventional cotton farming and go organic. Likewise with your towels. After wonderfully cleansing baths or showers, you might dry up with fluffy organic cotton towels [ and play your part in taking care of the environment.Write by phanmemgoc